Jeremy Shepherd, president of PearlParadise.com, says he has become the first American to own an Akoya pearl farm in Asia.
The relatively new farm, located in Xuwen, Guangdong, China (registered in China as “Xuwen Jinhui Pearl Company” in Chinese, and “Xuwen Pearl Paradise Farm” as its English counterpart), is opened with a Chinese business partner. Three million shells are currently under cultivation in the farm’s waters and Shepherd says expects the farm to yield between one million to one and a quarter million useable pearls by the Winter of 2008.
“With this deal, PearlParadise.com is able to do what no other pearl company can do: effectively control the quality and pricing of the world’s finest pearls,” Shepherd said.
Founded in 1996, PearlParadise.com conducts 99 percent of its business online. The Web site did $15 million in sales 2005 and $20 million in sales last year.
Ownership of the farm is the next logical step in the evolution of the business, as the suppliers he used to buy product from will now make purchases directly from him, Shepard said. Typically, owners of farms sell pearls to distributors. Distributors would then sell their product to retailers who finally offer pearls to consumers.
PearlParadise.com is the first company of its kind to “backward integrate,” therefore eliminating the many middlemen, Shepard said.